Global Peace Index – Only 10 Counties Not At War by Institute for Economics and Peace
Global Peace Index – Executive Summary
This is the tenth edition of the Global Peace Index (GPI), which ranks 163 independent states and territories according to their level of peacefulness. Produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace (lEP), the Global Peace Index is the world’s leading measure of global peacefulness. This tenth anniversary report presents the most comprehensive analysis to date on the trends in peace and violence over the past ten years.
In addition to presenting the findings from the 2016 Global Peace Index and a trend analysis, this year’s report includes an updated assessment of the economic value of peace and new research on the systemic nature of Positive Peace. Given the importance of the new United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 16 on peace, justice and strong institutions, there is also a detailed audit of the current data to determine how measurable Goal 16 is and where there are gaps in coverage.
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The Global Peace Index is composed of 23 qualitative and quantitative indicators from highly respected sources and now ranks 163 independent states and territories, covering 99.7 per cent of the world’s population. The 2016 edition expands its coverage by including Palestine for the first time. The index gauges global peace using three broad themes: the level of safety and security in society; the extent of domestic or international conflict; and the degree of militarization.
The tenth edition of the Global Peace Index finds that overall global levels of peace continue to deteriorate while the gap between the most and least peaceful countries continues to widen. The rising global inequality in peace is important to highlight as it masks some positive trends. While some of the most peaceful nations have reached historic levels of peace, the least peaceful nations have become even less peaceful. So intense is the violence and conflict in the Middle East and North Africa (M ENA) region that, when looking at the rest of the world, the average levels of peacefulness in fact increased.
Coinciding with the increasing internationalization of the MENA conflicts has been a renewed effort by many countries to fund peacekeeping operations, with the timeliness of payments for UN peacekeeping operations substantially improving over the last ten years. T here has also been a notable decrease in global military spending in the last three years. The conflicts in MENA, however, highlight the internationalization of modern conflict. Countries thousands of kilometers away are affected by refugee flows or terrorism stemming from these conflicts.
The results of the 2016 Global Peace Index reinforce the underlying trend of the last ten years. It finds the world has become slightly less peaceful – by 0.53 per cent – when compared to the prior year. Reflecting the growing inequality in peace, slightly more countries improved than deteriorated, with 81 countries improving their peace scores while 79 countries deteriorated. As the size of the deteriorations were larger than the improvements, there was a decline in the average country score. Two of the three domains of the Global Peace Index deteriorated last year. Both the societal safety and security and ongoing conflict domains recorded lower levels of peace, while militarization recorded a slight improvement. The indicator with the largest improvement was (EV peacekeeping finding. This underscores the increasing commitment of the international community to maintaining adequate funding for peacekeeping operations. The second largest improvement was for the security officers and police rate indicator, with the number of countries that have high levels of police and internal security officers decreasing.
The two indicators with the largest yearly deterioration were the impact of terrorism and political instability. Deaths from terrorism increased by 80 per cent from last year’s report with only 69 countries not recording a terrorist incident. The intensity of terrorism also increased with the number of countries suffering more than 500 deaths from terrorist acts more than doubling, up from 5 to 11. The second largest deterioration was in the political instability indicator and was driven by large changes within many countries spread across many regions. Among the countries with the largest deteriorations were Djibouti, Guinea- Bissau, Poland, Burundi, Kazakhstan and Brazil.
Iceland is once again the world’s most peaceful country, followed by Denmark, Austria, New Zealand and Portugal, which improved nine places. The five countries at the bottom of the index are all suffering from ongoing conflicts, with Syria ranking least peaceful, followed by South Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia.
Europe retains its position as the most peaceful region in the world, accounting for six of the first seven places in the global rankings. However, the average score for Europe deteriorated slightly, reflecting increases in the impact of terrorism due to the large terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels as well as the escalation of violence and instability in Turkey and its deteriorating relations with its neighbors. The largest regional improvement occurred in Central America and the Caribbean, recording an average improvement of one per cent. The South and North America regions made progress as well, while MENA experienced the largest deterioration, followed by sub-Saharan Africa, Europe and the Asia-Pacific.
The historic ten-year deterioration in peace has largely been driven by the intensifying conflicts in the MENA region. Terrorism is also at an all-time high, battle deaths from conflict. are at a 25 year high, and the number of refugees and displaced people are at a level not seen in sixty years. Notably, the sources for these three dynamics are intertwined and driven by a small number of countries, demonstrating the global repercussions of breakdowns in peacefulness. Many countries are at record high levels of peacefulness, while the bottom 20 countries have progressively become much less peaceful, creating increased levels of inequality in global peace.
Over the past decade, the average country score deteriorated by 2.44 per cent with 77 countries improving while 85 countries deteriorated, highlighting the global complexities of peace and its uneven distribution.
The number of refugees and displaced persons increased dramatically over the decade, doubling fi‘om 2007 to 2015, to approximately 60 million people. There are nine countries with more than 10 per cent of their population classified as refugees or displaced persons with Somalia and South Sudan having more than 20 per cent of their population displaced and Syria with over 60 per cent displaced.
The stand-out improvement over the period is UN peacekeeping finding which improved by 12 per cent. The other indicator with the most improvement is external conflicts fought, however this has been offset by an increase in internal conflicts fought. The two other indicators to show improvement are armed service personnel and military expenditure, both improving by five per cent. The number of armed service personnel declined in 48 of the 51 countries classified as authoritarian, highlighting the shift to more technologically advanced militaries.
The economic impact of violence on the global economy in 2015 was $13.6 trillion in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms. This figure represents 13.3 per cent of the world’s economic activity (gross world product) or $1,876 for every person in the world. To put this in perspective, it is approximately 11 times the size of global foreign direct investment.
The economic analysis highlights how the economic losses from conflict dwarf the expenditures and investments in peace-building and peacekeeping. Peace-building and peacekeeping expenditures represent only two per cent of the global economic losses from conflict.
Further research on Positive Peace is presented in this report, which conceptualizes systems thinking and its relationship to Positive Peace. Many of the challenges facing humanity are fundamentally global in nature, such as climate change, decreasing biodiversity, continued economic instability and increasing migration. All of these challenges are interconnected and multifaceted, requiring new ways of conceptualizing the relations between countries and the larger systems upon which humanity depends. This report contains an analysis of systems thinking and how it applies to nation states, describing concepts of national intent, their encoded norms, national homeostasis, self-modification and mutual feedback loops to provide a new inter-dependent framework and more holistic approach to understanding peace and development.
The report also provides an analysis of countries” resilience to shocks and how levels of Positive Peace affect the likelihood and impact of shocks and hazards. Countries with high Positive Peace are more likely to maintain their stability and adapt and recover from both internal and external shocks. Low Positive Peace systems are more likely to generate internal shocks, with 84» per cent of major political shocks occurring in these countries. Similarly, there are 13 times more lives lost from natural disasters in nations with low Positive Peace as opposed to those with high Positive Peace, a dis-proportionally high number when compared to the distribution of incidents.
The final section of the report provides an audit of the available data to measure Goal 16 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). For the first time, UN member states have formally recognized the critical nature of peacefulness in advancing global development. The 17 SDGs are a new set of goals to target poverty, inequality, injustice and climate change by 2030. Goal 16 relates to the promotion of peace, justice and strong institutions.
IEP’s audit of the existing data for Goal 16 finds that whilst its targets are only partly measurable, there is sufficient existing data to adequately track progress. However, while indicative progress can be gauged, there are still significant challenges to data availability, disaggregation, reliability, timeliness and objectivity. It will take significant time and investment for countries to develop the necessary capacities to measure Goal 16. Independent assessment will be critical in plugging data gaps and verifying the accuracy of national statistical data.
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